Elizabeth Jones on what to do in your garden this October – the essential blooms to pick and plant this month.

To Pick:

While September’s Hurricane Fiona definitely impacted Bermuda, it did not completely denude the island of foliage, leaving us with nothing to pick in October. Some hedging was blasted, of course, which is why so many Surinam cherry bushes look burnt although already new growth is appearing in a swathe of green. Individual plants and shrubs were subject to the wind’s vagaries. One plant could be totally scorched while another identical to it in the same garden remained unscathed. This was particularly true of the bird of paradise (strelitzia reginae), a subtropical flower, perfect for an exotic bouquet. Its botanical name is after King George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz who took a strong interest in Kew Gardens, London, where the plant was introduced from South Africa. It’s also known as a crane flower but its flamboyant petals of orange and blue do make it resemble the head and beak of the tropical bird with the same name.

Some coral plants (peregrina or jatropha) have also been untouched by the wind and their five-petalled red flowers offer a flash of colour signalling the oncoming of Christmas. While Croton (codiaeum variegatum) leaves in all their different colour combinations of orange, red, bronze, green, purple, and yellow add interest to an October bouquet.

To Plant:

Natal Plum (carissa macrocarpa) is a great hedging option in Bermuda because of its resistance to salt and wind. Its glossy evergreen leaves, white fragrant flowers and red fruit are attractive while sharp spines on its stems make it an effective security barrier. Propagate from 4-6-inch hard cuttings. Once they root, plant in well-drained soil, ideally in full sun. Do not overwater as Natal plum is subject to root rot. Now that October’s cooler months are here, it’s the perfect time to plant annuals for borders, pots and containers. Try petunias whose flowers come in many varieties and colours, red being appropriate for the Christmas season. Plant roughly one foot apart in well-drained soil. Keep moist but do not overwater. Fertilise with liquid fertiliser every two weeks.